Raising hope

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By The Staff

Paul and Janette Sena wandered into Hope Pregnancy Center looking for a car seat for their son. What they got, Paul said, was so much more.

"We've been blessed by the Hope Pregnancy Center," Paul said, during the center's annual fundraising banquet Friday at the White Rock Baptist Church.

Paul explained he wanted to be a better father than his own father had been , but he had no idea where to turn to for guidance and help. "I knew what I wanted," he said. "I just didn't know how I was going to get it."

Hope Pregnancy showed him and his wife the way, Paul said. It provided them with the right answers to their questions. "Everything you do is a blessing," he said.

To continue helping families like the Senas, the center personnel need a helping hand themselves.

It's been a rough year for the pregnancy center, executive director Sarah Taylor said. For a period, the center was operating without a lead administrator, the number volunteers decreased and client numbers dropped, too - Taylor said last year, the center served 110 people, this year, it was 59.

Things are not completely bleak, however. The filled room at the church showed there is support for the center. "I can't tell you how encouraging it is to see all of you tonight," Taylor said.

For instance, since the executive position has been filled, donors have doubled. Additionally, 59 clients means there have been 59 lives the pregnancy center has touched, Taylor said. She added the center staff and volunteers had been doing very little publicity, but more than half the people who came to the center heard about it by word of mouth.

Hope Pregnancy Center volunteers and staff are not dwelling on their past, in fact, they are envisioning a bright future.

In this future, Taylor said, center personnel would like to share services, share their vision and communicate a need for volunteers.

She has a full to-do list to accomplish this bright future. Taylor said she would like to network with local pastors, identify Christian organizations, provide classes and literature to parents, address a church youth group abstinence program, organize a youth advisory board and train volunteers.

This lengthy list cannot be completed alone; therefore, Taylor said, there is a need for volunteers. "There are so many exciting ways to get on board," she said.

Joan Douglas, executive director of CareNet Albuquerque, also called people to support the Hope Pregnancy Center.

Community support, prayer and funding are needed to make the pregnancy center successful, she said.

A little bit of money and support can make a big difference, Douglas said. If 100 people provided $25 a month for 12 months, they could raise $30,000. If another 100 individuals contributed $50 a month for 12 months, they could generate an additional $60,000, she said.

Douglas pointed some people talk themselves out of volunteering because they figure they are too old, too busy or too unqualified to help. But she noted, in the Bible, God turned for assistance to many people who had faults. She pointed out Noah was drunk, David was a murderer and Jonah ran from God and the disciples fell asleep during prayers.

"I know personally what a struggle it is to follow God's will," she said. But when people take tiny steps to heed God's call, Douglas said, it will give them sweet peace, which is more valuable than gold.

There are several ways to take those steps, Gerald Streit, treasurer of the Hope Pregnancy Center board, said. Pledge cards were distributed to donate money to the center, additionally, donations made to the Los Alamos National Laboratory and United Way of Northern New Mexico fundraiser will help benefit the pregnancy center and Smith's Food and Drug will donate a portion of revenue from each sale to the center, if shoppers register at www.smithsofoodanddrug.com.

"You can help, here, now, tonight ... help Hope Pregnancy Center impact a life," Streit said.

Rev. Tom Kearns, chairman of the Hope Pregnancy Center board, told the Monitor, he encourages people to support the center "because it impacts women in their crisis pregnancy, which also impacts the babies that they are carrying," he said.

Taylor told the Monitor she felt the banquet was a success. "I feel very confident," she said. "Our supporters have always stepped up to the plate in the past and I believe they will do the same this year."

Hope Pregnancy Center is a nonprofit, Christian- based organization that offers acceptance and assistance to men and women facing unplanned pregnancies. All services are free and confidential.

For more information about how to donate or volunteer at the center, call 662-2300.